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India's fertility decline signals demographic shift, population projection downward

A recent study shed light on India's changing demographics, indicating a significant decline in fertility rates that could impact country's

By Ground report
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India's fertility decline signals demographic shift, population projection downward

A recent study published in the international journal The Lancet has shed light on India's changing demographics, indicating a significant decline in fertility rates that could impact the country's population in the coming decades.

Researchers project that India's total fertility rate (TFR), which currently stands at 1.91 based on 2021 data, will decrease to 1.29 by the year 2050. This decline marks a stark contrast from the TFR of 6.18 recorded in 1950, reflecting a substantial decrease in the average number of children born per woman during her reproductive years (15 to 49).

The global fertility trend mirrors India's experience, with a notable decline observed over the past seven decades. In 1950, the global TFR exceeded 4.8, whereas in 2021, it averaged around 2.2 children per woman. Scientists anticipate a further decrease to 1.8 by 2050 and 1.6 by the end of the century.

Various factors, including lifestyle changes, dietary shifts, and environmental influences, contribute to this decline in fertility rates globally. The study highlights that in 1950, approximately 930 million live births occurred worldwide. However, by 2021, this number decreased to 1.29 billion, indicating a significant slowdown in population growth.

India's population will decrease next decade

India, currently the world's most populous country surpassing China, is poised for a demographic shift as its fertility rates continue to decline. Experts suggest that this trend may lead to a decrease in India's population in the coming decades, marking a significant departure from previous projections of continuous growth.

The crucial factor influencing this shift is the declining fertility rate, which plays a pivotal role in maintaining population balance across age groups. Ideally, a fertility rate of around 2.1 is necessary to ensure a stable population structure, with an adequate number of children to replace aging adults in the future.

However, India's current fertility rate is falling below this critical threshold, indicating a potential imbalance in the population composition. This imbalance could result in an increased proportion of older people compared to younger demographics, potentially leading to labor shortages and other societal challenges in the future.

India is not alone in facing this demographic dilemma; over half of the world's countries, including 110 out of 204 nations, have fertility rates below the replacement level of 2.1. If this trend persists, researchers warn that by the end of the century, a staggering 97 percent of countries worldwide could experience declining fertility rates, disrupting population stability globally.

The findings of this study, based on Global Burden of Disease (GBD) data analyzed by researchers at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), highlight the urgent need for strategic population management and policy interventions to address the potential consequences of declining fertility rates. While this trend poses challenges for countries globally, particularly in maintaining workforce and economic stability, proactive measures can mitigate adverse impacts and foster sustainable population dynamics.

Chad's fertility rate is seven per woman

While many countries are experiencing a decline in fertility rates, some regions, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, continue to grapple with significantly high fertility rates, leading to contrasting demographic trajectories globally.

Chad, a country in sub-Saharan Africa, currently holds the distinction of having the highest fertility rate globally, with an average of seven children per woman. However, this stark contrast is evident in countries like South Korea and Serbia, where fertility rates are alarmingly low, hovering around 1.1 children per woman.

Despite the high fertility rates in Chad, countries such as South Korea and Serbia face demographic challenges due to declining birth rates. Consequently, these differences in fertility rates highlight significant variations in population dynamics between regions.

Experts are concerned about the global implications of these trends, predicting a substantial decrease in the global fertility rate in the coming decades. By the end of the century, only six countries out of 204 are expected to maintain a fertility rate above the replacement level of 2.1 live births per woman. These countries include Samoa, Somalia, Tonga, Niger, Chad, and Tajikistan. Conversely, 13 countries, including Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Saudi Arabia, are projected to have fertility rates below one child per woman.

One of the significant shifts highlighted by research is the changing distribution of global childbirth patterns. In 2021, 29 percent of the world's children were born in sub-Saharan Africa, a figure expected to surge to 54 percent by the end of the century.

The report highlights concerns about the expected dominance of childbirth in resource-limited regions, forecasting 77% of live births in low and lower-middle-income countries by century's end. These countries, already grappling with challenges like climate change, poverty, and inadequate healthcare, require proactive measures and global collaboration for sustainable development and better living standards.

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